New Zealander Bevan Docherty has won the inaugural Panama half ironman, beating seven-time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong in a close finish.

Docherty, a two-time Olympic medalist in the standard triathlon distance, triumphed over American Armstrong after passing him near the end of the 21km run.

"This was absolutely awesome," Docherty said after the race.

"That was one hard race, I wasn't sure what to expect but Lance really pushed me."


"This is my first half ironman in 12 years so I wasn't too sure how to pace myself so I just went out hard and seemed to pace quite well. I got my second wind before a k (kilometre) to go and managed to catch Lance but that last k really hurt."

Docherty was second out of the water after the 2km swim and seventh after the 90km bike leg. He passed Armstrong, who was making his half ironman debut, in the final stages of the race and won by only 42 seconds. Australian Richie Cunningham was third, two minutes behind Armstrong.

Results: Bevan Docherty (NZL) 3:50:13, 1; Lance Armstrong (USA) 3:50:55, 2; Richie Cunningham (AUS) 3:52:59, 3.

WATCH: Docherty interviewed after winning Panama half ironman

WATCH: Docherty crosses the finish final